Author's Note: Well, here we are again. Just like I promised, since The Divine Plan has reached 200,000 views and is complete, I'm posting my next story. When I first set out to write The Divine Plan, I don't think I ever really planned on writing another story. But here we are. Taking into account a lot of the lessons I learned from writing my first story, this one will be much more lighthearted and fun…at least, that's the plan. As a result, I will admit that there may be plot holes or discrepancies with canon. While I do not plan for them and make every attempt to avoid them, I am only human and may forget things. That said, I have done much more research for this story and have actually planned everything out completely, unlike what I did last time. Due to the fact that everything is outlined now, the first five chapters of this story are much shorter than later chapters. That doesn't mean they are particularly short, just shorter than the chapters will be later. This is due to the fact that the first few chapters are introductory chapters, setting up for the main story. As you read chapter one, I don't think there will be anyone out there who will be able to see what the main plot of this story is. That will come later on after the groundwork has been laid.
When developing this story, I considered several things, but many of them came back to one question: how far can I take a small event and have it have broad implications? In other words, how drastic can the consequences of one small action be? You will see the beginning of that in this chapter.
There are a few other things I want to mention here as well before we begin. The first is that, for a number of reasons, this story is set in modern times. Harry's fifth year is ending in 2011 in this story. Timing will also play a part in the story, hence the time stamps scattered throughout the story.
Another note I wanted to bring up is the way the characters are portrayed. Whereas in The Divine Plan, Harry and Hermione were technically adults with the mind of an adult, that is not the case in this story. As a result, I am writing them as exactly what they are: teenagers. Confused teenagers. So when I wrote this chapter, and the rest of the story, I considered, at least with regards to Harry, how I would have felt in his shoes when I was his age. So, the characterization of Harry and Hermione may be different from what I have written before, making them more innocent. This is intentional.
But the other thing I want to mention is that the chapter titles in this story will follow a common theme. I will not say what that theme is, but I'm hoping that a few of you out there in Internetland will be able to guess. Once someone guesses it in a review, it won't really be a secret anymore, so I'll let the cat out of the bag. But at that point, if anyone can guess the name of the next chapter (or each subsequent chapters as we go along), then they'll get an Internet cookie from me (or just a smiley). Think of it as a kind of game to involve you, my treasured reader.
As always, I do want to mention that I do not own the rights to Harry Potter, or anything else in this story that may be copyrighted material or intellectual property of another individual. These are somebody else's toys. I'm just playing around with them for a little while.
So, once again, I thank you for reading this long note and this story in general, and please review it if you like it. Now, without further ado, let's get started. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Stealing Time.
June 9, 2011
With a frustrated sigh, fifteen-year-old Harry Potter looked up from his well-worn copy of A History of Magic and glanced around the nearly empty Gryffindor common room. The flickering light from the dying fire cast an eerie glow on the crimson and gold tapestries that adorned the walls, lending an air of sophistication to the room as the shadows of the room's occupants danced on the walls. Aside from the occasional hushed whisper from the two students in the room, the only sounds that could be heard were the crackling of the fire and the soft rustle of turning pages. As Harry looked around the room, he saw a pair of first year students rise from their seat on one of the sofas and make their way upstairs to the dormitory. Seated at a small square table in the corner of the common room, Harry was now alone in the room with his companion, who was seated across the table.
With her head buried in her copy of the same textbook, sixteen year old Hermione Granger sat directly across from Harry, a look of intense concentration etched on her face. From Harry's perspective, the low light from the fire framed his friend's bushy hair with an almost angelic radiance.
Taking a deep breath, Hermione lifted her head from her book and blinked tiredly. "How's it going for you, Harry?" she asked.
Harry rolled his eyes in response. "I don't know how I expected to learn the entire history of magic with a few days of review," he complained.
"Well, if you had paid attention in class and started earlier…" Hermione trailed off.
"I think you must be the only person who has managed to stay awake through an entire History of Magic class with Binns, Hermione," he argued. "You can't hold me to that standard; it's just not fair!"
"But what about starting your revising earlier?" she pressed.
"I…well…" he began, searching for a logical argument. "Maybe it wasn't the best idea to wait," he finished sheepishly, looking back down at his textbook.
Seeing the look of resignation on his face, Hermione closed her book loudly. "I think that's enough for tonight," she announced as Harry looked up again. "Harry, I know our History O.W.L. is tomorrow, but I think we've done enough for now. Regardless of what I said a moment ago, I really am proud of you for putting as much effort into studying as you have over the past few days. If only I could get Ron to put out a fraction of that effort…" she scowled as she thought of how Ron had skived off in order to experiment with the Room of Requirement, coming back late and heading straight up to bed. After seeing how the Room had conformed to the needs of Dumbledore's Army, Ron had become enthralled by the possibilities, and had taken to challenging the room to come up with more and more elaborate creations, culminating lately in the stadium from the Quidditch World Cup.
"Ugh," Harry groaned. "Why do I get the feeling that this isn't going to go well?"
Hermione smiled. "Unfortunately, Harry, since studying is somewhat new to you, you haven't experienced this yet. For me at least, the more I study and revise, the less confident I am. That doesn't make me any less prepared, I just feel less prepared, like I should have studied more. I just get the feeling that I won't do well. Maybe it's due to over thinking the problem, and maybe it's because I've been cramming so much information into my head that I think that I won't be able to remember it all. I'm not sure. But I do know from experience that there is a point at which you have to stop studying and just accept that you will do as well as you do."
"Yet you're the one who always worries and bites her nails in anticipation of her latest marks," Harry pointed out with a grin. "And you always complain if you ever get anything less than a perfect O."
Hermione blushed and turned away slightly at his remarks. "Maybe I have been a bit…preoccupied at times," she admitted. "But I can't help but be anxious to see how I actually did on an exam, even if I know I can't control it anymore once I put down the quill."
"Right," Harry replied as he closed his book as well.
"The best thing to do is to just do your best. We've been going over the material for a while now, so I know you'll do better on the exam now than you would have done a few days ago. At least keep that in mind, Harry." She rose and placed her book in her bag, which was resting on the floor next to the table. She then picked up her bag and walked around the table to Harry.
"Goodnight, Harry," she said softly. Then she did something that she had only done once before. She leaned down and kissed him softly on the cheek. "Good luck. And don't worry; I'm sure you'll do just fine."
With a small smile, she turned and climbed the stairs to the girl's dormitory, leaving Harry utterly alone in the common room.
Left alone, Harry slowly raised his hand to his face and rubbed his cheek idly. What was that? he thought. Was it just for luck? Or was it something more? Nah, Hermione isn't a devious little witch who would play with a bloke like that. She would come out and tell them directly. Wouldn't she? Wait, why am I even thinking about this all of a sudden. I mean, it was just a good luck kiss…that Hermione never usually does…
More confused than ever, Harry packed up his supplies and threw his bag over his shoulder. But he still couldn't shake the confusion from his mind. I've got to ask someone, he decided. Suddenly, he was struck by inspiration, and with a literal snap of his fingers, he rushed upstairs to his dormitory.
After creeping past the other sleeping students and rummaging around in his trunk, Harry returned to the empty common room, carrying a small object. The fading light from the glowing embers in the hearth reflected mystically off of the small mirror in Harry's hand.
"Sirius Black," he whispered into the mirror distractedly, his mind still wandering to what had transpired a moment before. There was no response for a moment, which caused Harry to glance up at the clock on the wall in worry. He had failed to consider that Sirius might be asleep by this point.
"Harry!" Sirius's jovial face said from the mirror suddenly. "Uh, oh. What's her name?" he asked.
"Huh?" Harry replied in confusion. "Who?"
Sirius suddenly looked several years older as he looked carefully at Harry. "Why the girl who's carrying your sprog of course. What's her name? It can't be Hermione. It's not Hermione…is it?"
Harry, still distracted, nodded. "Yeah, it's Hermione."
"You knocked up Hermione?" Sirius bellowed.
"Wait, what?" Harry asked quickly, shaken out of his stupor. "No, Sirius, I…Hermione and I…we didn't…I mean…"
Seeing the panic on his godson's face, Sirius's features immediately relaxed. "Okay, Harry, so you didn't knock up Hermione. That's a relief. For a moment there, I thought that-"
"Why would you think that that was why I was calling? Of all things, why that?"
Sirius reached behind his head and began scratching idly. "Well, you see Harry, when I first saw you, you had that look on your face. It's a look I remember seeing a lot of back in the day whenever a bloke would go through a pregnancy scare."
"Was it whenever you looked in a mirror, Sirius?" Harry asked cheekily, fully recovered from his panic at Sirius's accusations.
"So, Harry, what is wrong with the lovely Miss Granger then?" Sirius asked, dodging Harry's question. "This is the first time since I gave you that mirror that you've used it. It's got to be something important. That was kind of the first thing that came to mind though…"
"Leave it to you to jump that kind of conclusion, Sirius. But that's not it at all. See, Hermione and I were getting ready for our History of Magic O.W.L. tomorrow, and it wasn't going well. I just wasn't getting it. So we called it quits for the night. But then, as she was heading up to her room, she kissed me goodnight on the cheek."
Sirius was silent for a moment before speaking. "Okay," he began slowly, "is this the first time she's done this?"
"Well, no. It's actually the second time. The first time was at the end of last year at the station. She kissed me goodbye on the cheek then too. Granted, that time it was because we weren't going to see each other again for a long time, so it made sense then. But this time is different. It seemed different, almost like it was out of place. It was like she was doing it just for the sake of doing it."
"So what's the problem then?"
"I mean, nobody's ever done that before her. Granted, there was Cho, but that was just wet and awkward. Aside from her, Hermione's the only one who's done something like this."
"So what's the problem then?" Sirius repeated.
"Fine! I don't know what it means!" Harry admitted exasperatedly.
"That's better then. So let's talk about it, shall we? Let's start with what you think it means."
"I don't know. I mean, it could have just been for luck, but I'm not sure. What if it isn't? I just can't figure it out!"
"What makes you think that this little peck was for anything more than luck? Has she ever given you any reason to think that she may like you as more than a friend?"
"Well, no," Harry admitted uncomfortably. "Do you really think it was just for luck?"
"Harry, I think you're reading too much into this. I can't help but think of the great Muggle author Shakespeare, when he wrote 'The lady dost protest too much, methinks.' Not that I'm saying that you're a lady, but the principle still stands."
"I'm just trying to figure it out," Harry protested. "Wait. Since when do you read Shakespeare?"
"Actually, it was your mother who tried to introduce Shakespeare to us Marauders . She only succeeded in getting Remus to read anything he wrote, but I do remember that Remus used that one line on your mother at one point."
"So you've never actually read anything by him?"
"Of course not, Harry. I've got an image to maintain here! But really, don't worry about it. I'm willing to bet that it was nothing more than a good luck kiss. I really think you're making more of this than you need to."
"Fine," Harry sighed with a mixture of relief and despondency. "I'll take your word for it. Rumor has it that you were quite the womanizer back in your day."
"Back in my day?" Sirius repeated in an offended tone. "I'll have you know that I still have a way with the ladies. Just the other day, I was out with Remus, disguised of course, and-"
"Wait. Are you sure the correct word is 'ladies?' If I have to ask Remus about your romantic qualities, then something must be weird here."
His face flushed red with embarrassment, Sirius scowled at Harry through the mirror. "Harry, don't forget that just because you're far away in a magical castle doesn't mean I can't track you down and injure you bodily. Remember that and I'll let that comment slide this one time."
Harry didn't make eye contact with Sirius following his thinly-veiled threat, his wandering eyes finding the clock on the wall. The time was quickly approaching midnight. His exam was scheduled for ten o'clock in the morning.
"You know, these mirrors remind me of all of Dudley's computers he's had over the years," Harry observed absently. "Of course, the Dursleys would never let me use them or even touch them. But just using these mirrors reminds me of what I would sometimes see him doing, chatting with his friends using a camera he had."
"He had a what?" Sirius asked, confused. "Is that one of those muggle marvels that Arthur is so enthralled by?"
"Yeah," Harry replied with a chuckle. "I forgot how far apart the magical and muggle world are sometimes. A computer is a muggle device that…well…it's actually really difficult to explain to someone who really has no grasp of the muggle world. No offense, Sirius."
"Oh, of course I shouldn't take offense at that," Sirius responded sarcastically.
"Don't pay it any mind, Sirius. At any rate, it's late, and I have my History O.W.L. in the morning."
"Good luck on that, Harry. Make sure that Binns doesn't haunt you in your sleep and rot your mind with his ramblings."
"Such a pleasant image to fall asleep to," Harry muttered with a roll of his eyes. "Good night, Sirius."
"Good night, Harry. Oh, and Harry," he added, "thanks for calling. "You have no idea how happy I am that you finally wanted to talk to me. Much more so that you came to me with a problem."
Harry gave Sirius a small smile. "I'm sorry it took so long. I just didn't want to give you any ideas and have you run off on some fool's errand. You are still a wanted man, after all."
"Unfortunately, you're correct, Harry. But anyway, good night, and good luck on your exam. By the way, to disconnect the mirror, just tap the top edge."
With a nod to Sirius, Harry moved to tap the mirror and end the call.
"Oh! Harry, one last thing," Sirius called out quickly. "Think about what I said. I really think you're over thinking the whole situation with Hermione. But I really think you should think about what you want. I get the feeling that friendship may not be enough for you, even if you aren't ready to admit it, or even able to realize it." Harry opened his mouth to protest, but was cut off. "Just keep it in mind. Good night." With that, the mirror went blank, disconnected at the other end.
Tucking the mirror into the pocket in his oversized jeans, Harry headed back up to his dormitory. Once upstairs, he returned the mirror to his trunk before changing into a large t-shirt and shorts.
"Girls are so bloody hard to figure out," he complained quietly to himself as he climbed into his bed, closing the curtains behind him. As he crawled under the blankets, he considered Sirius's words more carefully.
It's just not something she usually does, Harry rationalized. I mean, that's all it is. What did she expect me to think? I'm only fifteen years old, it's not like I know what everything a girl does means. Then again, she did go to the Yule Ball with Krum last year. And her constant bickering with Ron could be their form of some pathetic mating ritual or something…Gah! It's so confusing!
It could have just been a good-luck kiss, another voice within his mind argued, sounding somewhat irritated. Why are you trying to convince yourself otherwise? Has she given you any reason to? Maybe Sirius is right. Maybe you do secretly fancy Hermione and are just trying to justify it any way you can.
Shut up! Harry argued back to himself. I'm just trying to figure it out is all.
More like trying to overanalyze, the other voice shot back. Just see how she acts tomorrow. Maybe that'll give you an idea about what she meant. Until then, I'm tired and need my sleep.
Harry's mind went silent after that. The only sound in the dormitory was the sound of Ron's incessant snoring.
Wait, was I just arguing with the voices in my head? Harry asked himself. I must be crazier than I thought. Maybe it'd be a good idea to just forget this whole thing ever happened.
With that, Harry turned over onto his side, tucked a hand under his pillow, and drifted off to sleep.
End of Chapter 1
A/N: So that was chapter one which, along with the next few chapters, are somewhat short and form a sort of introduction to the story itself. So don't judge the full tale just yet. That said, please review and let me know what you think of this first chapter or what I need to change (at least technically, not with the story). I am trying to keep the characters more in character this time, so Harry and Hermione will act their age for the most part. I also wanted to have more fun with the interactions between Harry and Sirius, so this chapter is the beginning of that. Anyway, leave a review, or two or three. Otherwise, stay tuned. I plan on keeping a relatively regular update schedule, that should be at least once per week, considering the fact that I am several chapters ahead at this point. So stay tuned!